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Sunday Tip: Natural Light vs. Artificial Light for Blog Photos

Natural Light vs. Artificial Light for Blog PhotosIt’s Sunday – for a lot of bloggers, who have a full time job, the weekend is the time to get those posts ready. Having a major Photo-taking session today? Worried about the lack of light you’re facing with the upcoming winter months?
Today I’ll be explaining the differences between natural light, on camera flash, strobes and a continuous light source on your photos. So you can see the difference for yourself and then decide how to do this thing called “Blog Photos”. Interested? Keep readingLight is crucial for photos, and yes natural light is the greatest thing ever. It’s free and makes for beautiful airy shots but it’s tricky; cloudy day? No light. Rainy winter? Gloom and Doom. Bright and Sunny? You’ll need a filter of some sort to cancel out those harsh shadows. To make thing just a tad more simple I’ve got the same layout shot with different light sources and two different cameras – because not everyone owns a fancy DSLR.

Let’s start off with explaining the different light options available:

  1. Natural Light – amazing but tricky, needs to be there and can only be used in the daytime. Usually best for weekend shooters.
  2. On Camera Flash – the little thing connected to your camera, on DSLR’s its often right above the lens meaning you’ll get a harsh shadow right behind whatever your shooting. On Point & Shoots it’s often on the top left hand side of the camera, opposite your shutter button, this is actually better than the DSLR options since it’ll be less harsh.
  3. Strobe – I’ve got professional strobes from Elichrom, but the ones made by Nikon or Canon or any manufacturer are great, you can aim them at the ceiling or opposite of the direction you’re shooting for some serious “bounce” of light. These are the type of flashes you’ll see being used at events or parties by photographers. A great solid investment if you’re looking to expand your photography time slot.
  4. Continous Lighting – basically a lamp, you’re better off using something meant for video since it’ll be a daylight colour temperature (you won’t get wonky too yellow images or blue tones) but may need to use a tripod to get nice crisp shots. This is the one I’d go for if you have to choose between a strobe or this if you’re into video as well.

With all the options squared off, here are some examples taken with my Point & Shoot Fuji X10 Camera. It’s a bit fancier than most but it’s a few years old so things on the market now are quite comparable I’d say.

Natural Light | ISO 200 F/2.8 1/25
Natural Light | ISO 200 F/2.8 1/25
Continuous Light | ISO 200 F/2.8 1/60
Continuous Light | ISO 200 F/2.8 1/60
On Camera Flash | ISO 220 F/2.8 1/60
On Camera Flash | ISO 220 F/2.8 1/60

All of these are straight out of the camera, you can see that the natural light one is a bit brighter (because of the shutter speed) but it’s also that tiniest bit less sharp. Overall both the on camera flash and the continuous light give great results that with a bit of editing in a program will look amazing. If you’ve forgotten to take your blog photos on the weekend, or if the suns not co-operating then these will see you thru easily.
Here they are after a quick tweak of editing on my iPhone using VSCO Cam (f2 filter & brightness/sharpen) – I can’t tell which is which anymore!

Natural Light vs. Artificial Light for Blog Photos

Because I know some bloggers like to use DSLRS here’re some shots from my Nikon D7000 with 17-55mm lens.

Natural Light | ISO 200 F/3.2 1/40
Natural Light | ISO 200 F/3.2 1/40
On Camera Flash | ISO 200 F/8.0 1/200
On Camera Flash | ISO 200 F/8.0 1/200
Strobe Flash | ISO 200 F/3.2 1/200
Strobe Flash | ISO 200 F/3.2 1/200

You can see that the on camera flash is harshest, and the I had to close my aperture to make it so that my entire photo wasn’t over exposed. This means you loose out any nice ‘bokeh’ or that blurry background we love so much. If you have a DLSR but can’t shoot with natural light I’d go for a strobe, I shot with it directed opposite of my lens’ direction and the effect is quite natural, if slightly less “soft” than natural light.

So that’s kind of it, a summary or a guide to help you out when the sun is playing a game of hide and seek or if it’s simply too rainy and dark to properly take photos. As always, I’d recommend using natural light as much as you can since it’s free and looks amazing but for when you’re in a pickle there’s no need to not make that blog post!
This post is a part of a series about photography – to view the previous post click here.

Hope this was helpful and that you enjoyed it – if you’ve any questions you’d like answered about photography, editing or lighting let me know and I’ll make a post about it for you.

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